In his youth, Andres Trombatore rode his bike from sun up to sun down and he liked nothing more than tinkering with it. He’d buy spray paint at the local hardware store to make his bike more colorful. He loved everything about his bike.
So I guess it comes as no surprise that nowadays he finds himself scrubbing chains, fixing spokes, tightening cables, stripping down parts and obsessing about cleats and carbon forks. Trombatore owns Bokah Bikes, which offers repairs, vintage and used bikes, biking gear and apparel. The business started in his home but this December he moved into a new space on St. Claude.
Trombatore is originally from Guatemala. He lived in Boca del Monte and the name of his store; “Bokah” is a playful tribute to his hometown. His family moved to Louisiana when he was 12.
“We lived in every big city along I-10 but New Orleans always tugged at my heart. I felt destined to be here.”
When he finally moved to New Orleans a few years ago, Trombatore didn’t own a car so he biked everywhere.
“I love cycling because you can get in touch with the city,” he says. “You have an actual physical connection to it riding on its streets. You’re not isolated or segregated by being in the car. It’s more of a personal relationship and it makes you more a part of the community.”
Trombatore believes that Bokah Bikes is his way to contribute back to the community, a community where the commitment to cycling is steadily growing. He says it’s easy to bike here because of the flat terrain and our breathtaking scenery just never gets old.
“My business is not like having a job,” he says. “I don’t just show up every day because I have a nagging feeling if I don’t I’ll be fired; I show up because it’s my business and I love what I do. It just doesn’t feel like work.”
If you are one of 66.21 million people who ride bikes in America, he offers several helpful tips.
“The most important thing is to keep your drive chain clean,” he says. “Because there’s so much wear on the metal gears and chains it’s important to keep them clean. Next always check your tire pressure.”
Proper tire pressure keeps your bike rolling, riding smoothly and there's less chance you’ll be walking your bike home after sustaining a flat.
Trombatore says his work is balanced. He loves the lively interaction with his customers and the meditative state he finds when working on the bikes.
“I like that there’s always a new mechanical problem to solve. It’s humbling. The thing I love most about my business is being able to bring good bikes back to life.”
4244 Saint Claude Ave.
New Orleans, 70117
Tues-Sat 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.